BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Charlie Edwards put on a boxing masterclass in the first defence of his WBC world flyweight title on Saturday night.
The Croydon fighter, 26, was an emphatic points winner over former sparring partner Angel Moreno at Hackney’s Copper Box Arena.
The Spaniard was given a count in the eighth round – his gloves touching the canvas even though he was not seriously hurt – and did not win a single round on any of the three judges’ scorecards.
Each of them scored it 120-107 for Edwards, who was making a voluntary defence of the famous green belt he won by outpointing Cristofer Rosales in December.
It had looked as if the South Londoner could be mandated by the WBC to fight Welshman Andrew Selby. But while Edwards was cruising to a routine win, Selby was halted in five rounds by Julio Cesar Martinez in Mexico City.
There has been talk of Edwards moving up to super-flyweight to face Birmingham’s Kal Yafai. He is the WBA world champion as is due to face Norbelto Jimenez in June on the undercard of Anthony Joshua’s heavyweight clash with Jarrell Miller.
The danger for Edwards, who has won 15 of his 16 bouts, is that the WBC could strip him if he were to go up a division and box for a rival organisation’s belt.
And Edwards admits that he does not want to give up such a prestigious title. He said: “I will fight him [Yafai] if he wants to. But I don’t want to give it [the WBC belt] up. I can make flyweight, I can make it for a while – I can do it very comfortably.
“If I could undispute fly then I could move up and back down. While I can make the weight, why wouldn’t I? I’m not saying that super-fly isn’t my weight.”
Moreno was ranked 14th by the WBC and despite his toughness – marching forward throughout and looking to rough up the champion – it was never going to be enough.
Edwards had the superior skills and footwork, boxing excellently on the back foot.
“I didn’t really get out of first gear,” he said. “I played with him at times. I sat in the pocket at times and I was trying a few things.
“I knew it was going to heat up nicely, because we have sparred rounds together. It was a great feeling going in there as champion.
“It played out how I expected it to. I knew he was tough and game but I also knew he couldn’t outbox me. I knew he would be swinging and trying to rough me up.”
It was a win double on the night for Croydon.
Joshua Buatsi is the new British light-heavyweight champion – the Olympic bronze medallist claiming the vacant title with a third-round stoppage of the outgunned Liam Conroy.
The South London fighter was a huge favourite going into the contest at the Copper Box Arena.
And Conroy was down twice in the third round – big right hands doing the damage both times – before referee Phil Edwards waved the contest over.
Buatsi moved his record to 10-0 in the paid ranks and now looks set to box on the undercard of Anthony Joshua’s world heavyweight title defence against Jarrell Miller at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
Asked how he felt his career was progressing, the South Londoner said: “There is still a long way to go.
“But 10 fights in, to win the British title, it’s an achievement. It is a prestigious belt.
Joshua Buatsi (right) knocks down Liam Conroy during their British Light-Heavyweight Championship bout at the Copper Box Arena, London.
“He came and he tried – it just happened to be my night. I was patient. There are 12 rounds to get rid of someone.
“The shot that put him down, the counter right hand, I knew it was coming.”
Buatsi looks almost certain to have his next bout Stateside as part of the Joshua-Miller show.
“I’ll go home, do a body check and if my team give me the green light then we’re good to go,” he said.
His promoter Eddie Hearn said: “This young man is so, so special – spiteful and composed. I’m so excited about his future.
“He’s going to have to be a good fighter. But he has to be a good fighter because if you look at the elite level then they are all excellent fighters. I believe he has the ability to beat them all.”